Last week felt like it moved at double the speed of the previous one, a sure sign that my body and mind are recognising and responding to the regular pattern that was disrupted for 2 months over the summer. It was a week in which each of my classes started to feel stable and familiar, a welcome next phase in which I can start to concentrate on the learning process in an environment that is well-established and positive. There is a real pleasure in knowing that the year has started ‘right’ and then being able to relax into building authentic relationships with students.
I enjoyed reading Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing to my Grade 7s. Each time I read it I recognise how well it was crafted by the author, and I notice details that serve as perfect reminders for the students that authors consciously choose every word and every sentence structure to create impact. The tension of the dive through the tunnel grabs the classes every time and I have good fun making it into a dramatic reading! We framed our discussions around the vocabulary in the story and, more importantly, the types of conflict that we identified. On Thursday students selected which novel they wanted to read from the following list:
- Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen
- Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
- My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
- Zack’s Lie by Roland Smith
- Tell No One Who You Are by Walter Buchignani
This week we will work with the short story by Lessing to practise paragraph structure and using evidence effectively.
After writing their own poetry on Wednesday (see previous post), the Grade 9 class wrote an analysis of a poem in class, as a way for me to check how their understanding is developing, and to show me what steps need to be taken next in the unit. The two poems I offered them to analyse were Like a Flame by Grace Nichols and The Rites of Passage by Sharon Olds. On Friday we watched a BBC documentary hosted by Simon Armitage (author of Clown Punk, the poem mentioned in my previous post) in which he explores the 14th century English poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It is a great documentary as it delves into the origins of the legend, as well as tells the story. This week we move into the process of selecting a poem to write a final analysis on, supported by the process of one-to-one conferences on Wednesday and Friday.
Last week we kicked off the unit on biography writing, focussing initially on exploring effective vocabulary that we could use to describe character and personality. This week’s focus will be on the interview process and how to develop questions that engage the interviewee and provide a rich source of information for the biographer.
That’s the week that was – next update will be at the end of this week (this one is a day late, but I blame that on the afternoon sunshine and the EAT Festival in the Bois!)